PTC Connects Onshape with Arena

PTC announces connection between its SaaS CAD and PLM products.

PTC announced that Arena, the company’s cloud-based PLM application, is linked to Onshape, its cloud-based CAD application, with a new product called, logically enough, the Connection.

PTC acquired Onshape in 2019 and Arena in 2021 to lay the foundation for Atlas, its SaaS (software as a service) platform— a parallel design and manufacturing platform with the hope of being PTC’s platform of the future—while maintaining its desktop-based platform, anchored by Creo and Windchill.

“With the Connection, all stakeholders in the product development process—including design engineering, quality, procurement and supply chain partners—are always working on the same version of a design,” says the press release. “This allows for design reviews at any time and improvements to the product before investments are made in expensive manufacturing lines and tooling.”

We wonder why there would be any confusion about the version of design, as Onshape users are guaranteed access to the latest version of a design. Because the model is stored as a database, it is constantly updated on the cloud, no matter who or how many are working on it, without the need for files with dates or file names with version numbers. Onshape had, in effect, PDM without having to get a separate PDM system.[i] In Onshape’s blog entry Real-Time Data Management, we see that “Onshape is the only full-cloud CAD system, with no files and no copies” and that “Onshape is a new generation CAD system that lets teams work together without costly PDM systems.” Since its inception, Onshape has used its intrinsic lack of version confusion and no need for PDM as a unique selling point.

Is the connection between Onshape and Arena a walking back of the no-PDM-needed claim? We think not entirely. We can suppose that Connect is more a solution for Arena users operating in a PLM-centric environment who need a SaaS matching CAD connection rather than for Onshape users in a CAD centric environment who need no version control. There are many examples of PLM-centric and CAD-centric environments in departments within an organization, such as purchasing and design, or between organizations, such as a manufacturer and its suppliers.

“The Onshape-Arena Connection is the next step on PTC’s journey to make the product development process faster, easier, and more agile for designers, engineers, and suppliers, and it’s only possible because of the cloud-native architectures of Onshape and Arena,” says Jon Hirschtick, general manager of Onshape at PTC. “This is product development from a single provider with CAD, PDM, and PLM workflows fully realized in the cloud.”

The Connection requires no download, and presumably will be a menu item made available to both Onshape and Arena users for free the next time the applications are updated.

[i] You May Not Need a PDM After All, sponsored post,, December 6, 2019.